This column was contributed by San Benito County Supervisor Mark Medina. The opinions expressed do not necessarily represent BenitoLink or other affiliated contributors.
Dear San Benito community:
I want to address my decision on Tuesday, March 24 at the Board of Supervisors meeting to postpone the review of the application to rezone 29 acres near the Betabel Mobile Home Park into C-1 zoning until April 7. This decision was appropriate and responsible for various reasons:
This was one of the first virtual meetings held by the Board of Supervisors and I wasn’t confident that both the county and the public were ready for the use of web-based software (Zoom) used to handle a public hearing via videoconference. The rezoning item, in light of the recent election results for Measure K, is a matter of critical importance in my opinion and I wanted to be sure that the county’s technological resources could handle the audience it was sure to receive so that everyone interested in the item had a chance to observe and provide input.
Despite several problems related to the initial use of this software, over 50 people participated online. I believe that Zoom participation could be an excellent complement to encouraging and facilitating public participation on a much wider basis. Let’s face it, showing up at public meetings, for anyone working, is always difficult. The participants are also able to call using a cell phone or landline therefore high speed internet is not a necessity. Once we are done with this virus crisis, I will be encouraging that Zoom be used in addition to public attendance so that government can better serve the greater community.
Please send me any comments about this decision and your feelings about the application presented to convert these 29 acres into C-1 zoning. C-1 zoning will not allow any residential development on site. This will only be a commercial, non-residential use and any future commercial project contemplated at this site will have to go through all of the normal environmental review, planning hearings and Board hearing before it will ever be approved. Furthermore all infrastructure upgrades will be paid by the developer and I will ask the county to see if the developer will participate in a community facilities district which will pay for future fire and policing expenses.
During the next two weeks please research how you can participate on Tuesday, April 7. If you have any questions regarding the new way of public meetings please call me at (831) 801-4784 or email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I want to applaud the county workers for taking this first step in creating more public participation via Zoom and I look forward to voter participation.